Local doctor squares off against incumbent
wo candidates are vying for the ward 3 seat on the Parkville Board of Aldermen in the Tuesday, April 6 election.
Dr. John Carter estimates he has met many would-be constituents while conducting door-to-door campaigning and, so far, some have said they’re not happy with the decisions made by elected officials. Residents have mentioned a lack of transparency in negotiations and little citizen input for the construction of Creekside Development, recent sudden spikes in residents’ sewer bills and plans to construct baseball fields at Platte Landing Park that could endanger wildlife at adjoining wetlands and disrupt the peace of nearby homeowners.
Carter said he interprets the concerns as a sign of voter sentiment and said “$4 million (estimated cost of updating the fields) in a flood plain is not a wise investment.”
Carter added that many citizens are concerned about how expansion of the park would impact wildlife who use the adjoining wetlands. Carter said he’d like “to see it in writing from the Army Corps of Engineers” that they approve of the ball fields project as long as the fields are raised by two to three feet.
“When people voted to pass that sales tax (a 2019 voter-approved half-cent parks sales tax), they did not want a professional baseball complex there,” he said. Instead, voters envisioned more walking trails and an opportunity to view wildlife, Carter said.
Carter, who has lived in Platte County since 1988 and has been a Parkville resident for the past 20 years when the area was annexed by the city, said he doesn’t think it’s fair for residents “to take a financial risk” for out of towners to play ball in Parkville. “How many kids and adults on these teams are from Parkville?” he asked.
His conversations with citizens have caused Carter to draw conclusions.
“Usually if people are happy, they don’t say anything,” he said during a recent telephone interview. “Parkville residents don’t appear to be happy with the progress in Parkville.”
That’s why Carter, who’s 63, decided to run for the seat. “I’ve been telling people, ‘It’s time to put up or shut up,'” Carter said, adding that he took his own advice by filing for the alderman seat.
Carter said if elected he would take a different approach. “If I’m an alderman, I’ll investigate the issues and try to give better information (to the public),” he said. He also believes in applying cost-benefit analysis as a way to determine the viability of potential projects and a problem-solving technique.
The former emergency medical physician said he’s noticed areas that need attention in Parkville and that would be a focus of his attention if elected. For example, he is concerned about increasing accidents, especially on rural roads, such as some in Parkville. Carter said he believes elected officials should be more concerned about public safety issues and focus on improving infrastructure in conjunction with development and especially is concerned with safety on Bell Road.
Carter retired from full-time work about 18 months ago and currently is employed part-time in occupational medicine and plans to fully retire at the end of June. He is married to Cynthia Essmyer, a Missouri native.
Carter, who grew up in Arizona, has a bachelor of science in agriculture and earned a medical degree from the University of Arizona. He landed in Kansas City when assigned to post graduate training at Truman Medical Center. He was one of six children and spent some of his growing up years living and working on a farm on the outskirts of Phoenix. He said he also lived on a ranch in the desert where he worked in the fields and packing sheds.
Douglas Wylie, the incumbent, first was elected to the board in 2015 and successfully ran for re-election in 2017 and 2019. The 65-year-old industrial engineer at Hallmark Cards has called Parkville home for the past 40 years. He and his wife, Sylvia Wylie, have two grown children and four grandchildren. Wylie said he’s always been active in the community and considers his service time on the board of aldermen a continuation of that involvement.
Wylie holds a bachelors’ degree in math and drama and spent his early years in Parkville leading a community theatre, workshop, and educational program for children. He also coached children’s sports teams while he and his wife’s two now-grown children were younger, and he also was involved in scouting. He was active while his children attended school in the Park Hill School District, where he worked to help gain voter approval of several bond issues.
Wylie’s community involvement also has roots in the Parkville Heights Homeowners Association, where he and his wife have lived for more than 30 years. He’s proud of the history of the subdivision, which is the oldest remaining association in Parkville, he said during a telephone interview.
His involvement in the homeowners’ group caused him to attend Parkville Board of Aldermen meetings, where city leaders at the time convinced him to serve a six-month stint on the city’s planning and zoning commission. Those same city leaders also convinced him to run for a seat on the board of aldermen, a seat he continues to hold after three terms of service.
During his six years on the city’s board of aldermen, Wylie said he has developed “friendships with people I had never known before.” He’s proud to be a part of contributing to problem-solving where results “make people’s lives better.” A recent example is when electrical supplier KCP&L became Evergy and the result eliminated some lights on signage in Parkville. One area impacted were two lit subdivision marker signs that illuminated the path for children waiting for a school bus. Parents were concerned about their children’s safety in the area. Wylie said he arranged for a system to be installed that uses rechargeable batteries instead of electricity, contributing to a safer waiting area.
Wylie said his board of aldermen service has led to more opportunities to serve, such as his longtime membership and current chairmanship on the Mid-America Regional Council’s Solid Waste Management District. He and other local officials who serve the district coordinate efforts to host recycling and community clean-up events. His involvement allows him to better serve Parkville in the process.
“I bring information to the rest of the aldermen and, so far, they (local officials) are very enthusiastic about their support (of waste management issues),” he said.
Wylie said he’s seeking another term, in part, to finish several projects. These include re-drawing ward districting lines based on the latest census data. He said many boundaries were drawn before many of the existing houses were built, which creates odd boundaries. The result was “arbitrary lines, next door neighbors.in different wards” and those don’t represent “natural breaks,” he said. Wylie also hopes to pursue a plan to widen and make safer Bell Road which, as it stands, is narrow, winding and “very hazardous.” While the road is considered a small rural road, it gets a lot of traffic and walkers, Wylie said, adding that he hopes to pursue grants and other such programs to help pay for widening the road and adding a walking lane.
Wylie hopes to expand a “Renters’ Bill of Rights” which he and city staff created as an amendment to an already existing ordinance. The document details requirements of property owners of short-term rentals, such as working smoke detectors and other measures that promote safety, he said. Guidelines such as yard work requirements also prevent loss of property values in nearby homes, Wylie said. He would like the chance to pursue expanding the bill to include long-term rentals and to ensure that short- and long-term rental property have the same requirements.